What Is An Alien Registration Number?

Also known as an ‘A-Number’, an Alien Registration Number is a seven to nine digit number that can be found on a variety of documents from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS uses the Alien Registration Number to track files for immigrants (and some non-immigrants). It’s also important when people are dealing with forms requesting immigration benefits.

 

There are many scenarios that relate to A-numbers, so we’ve put this article together to answer all your questions around the Alien Registration Number including: who needs one, where you can find it on documentation, and how and why it is used.

Who Gets An Alien Registration Number?

Alien Registration Numbers are assigned to everyone who applies for a green card. All immigrants who intend to live permanently in the United States get an Alien Registration Number.

 

In addition to this, international students on an F-1 visa also get an A-number, even though they are only there on a temporary basis.

 

(Other temporary visitors to the United States, for example people using a business or tourist visa, are not issued an Alien Registration Number because they’re short-term visitors, not permanent immigrants.)

When Do You Get An Alien Registration Number?

When Applying for a Green Card

Most people are first given an Alien Registration Number when they apply for a green card.

F-1 Student Visa Holders

If someone works in the US on an F-1 student visa, they will be issued their A-number at that point. (If they then go on to apply for a green card, they are not issued with a second A-number- the one that was originally issued remains in use.)

Spouse of a US Citizen

People married to a US citizen need to file a green card application form and should receive their Alien Registration Number after about 30 days.

Spouse of a Green Card Holder

People married to an existing green card holder need to first have their I-130 petition approved.

This is when a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States files a Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS, to establish the existence of a relationship to an alien relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States.

 

Once that is approved, they must then apply for a green card. People in those scenarios can expect to receive their A-number about a year after they start this process.

What Does an Alien Registration Number Look Like?

Your A-number is a 7, 8, or 9-digit number.

What is an Alien Registration Number Card?

There is actually no such thing as an ‘alien registration number card’. The alien registration number appears on various documents, but it does not have its own specific card. Sometimes people use the term ‘Alien Registration Number card’ instead of referring to other related documents such as a green card or visa, for example, but this isn’t correct. The A-number may appear on these documents, but they are not ‘alien registration number cards’.

Where Is Your Alien Registration Number?

So how do you find your Alien Registration number?

Your A-Number Is On All USCIS Correspondence

Once you’ve applied for a green card, your A-Number will be on all of the documents that USCIS sends you.

On the Immigrant Data Summary and USCIS Immigrant Fee handout

If you apply from outside the United States, you’ll find your A-number on the Immigrant Data Summary and USCIS Immigrant Fee handout provided to you during your consular interview.

A-Number In Your Passport

You’ll find your A-number on the visa stamped in your passport once your application is approved.

A-Number On Your Green Card

Your A-number will appear on the front of your green card.

On Your Work Permit (EAD, aka Employment Authorization Document)

It will appear under the heading ‘USCIS#’ on your EAD.

 

What Is The Difference Between A ‘USCIS Number’ and An ‘Alien Registration Number’?

The key difference is that your Alien Registration Number is assigned to you as an individual and remains the same for life, whereas a USCIS number is assigned to track a specific application or immigration status, and you will be issued a different one for each application.

 

For example you would be given a USCIS number for a green card application (when you are granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis) and a separate USCIS number if you later applied for US citizenship. Your Alien Registration number would be the same on each occasion.

Do Students on F-1 Visas Need an Alien Registration Number?

People on F-1 student visas, even though they are not applying for green cards and may only be staying a short time, are given an Alien Registration Number.

What Is The H-1B Visa?

 

The H-1B is a visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act that allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. (A specialty occupation is defined as one that requires the application of specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent of work experience.)

 

H-1B applicants need to have their employer file the PERM application and I-140 (the document filed with USCIS to petition for employment-based permanent residence, granting you a green card) then USCIS will assign them an Alien Registration Number.

 

An H-4 visa is a United States visa issued to dependent family members of H-1B visa holders, to allow them to travel to the US to accompany or reunite with the principal visa holder.

 

H-4 holders do not get assigned an Alien Registration Number. Only the primary H-1B holder has one.

 

This should answer all the most common questions around Alien Registration Numbers, but if you need assistance with anything relating to your A-Number, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

How To Apply For Dual Citizenship In The US

Many people enjoy the benefits that dual citizenship can bring, including voting and travel rights, and being able to take advantage of being a citizen in two countries instead of one. But how do you know if you’re eligible for dual citizenship in the US, whether your country of origin allows it, and whether it makes sense for you to apply? Read on to find out everything about dual citizenship.

What Is Dual Citizenship?

 

The meaning of ‘dual citizenship’ refers to the status of an individual who holds the nationality of two different countries at the same time.

 

Dual citizenship can offer many benefits: if, for example, you travel frequently between the US and another country to visit relatives, you don’t need to apply for a visa to enter either country. You would also usually benefit from the rights to work and vote in both countries.

Does The US Allow Dual Citizenship?

 

Yes, the US accepts dual citizenship – it does not require naturalized US citizens to give up citizenship elsewhere. It’s important, however, to check that your country of origin accepts dual citizenship. If it does not, not only will they not recognise your citizenship in the US, but there is a risk that in applying for it in the US, you’ll also relinquish your right to citizenship in your original country.

How To Apply For Dual Citizenship In The US

 

You actually need to apply for a second citizenship in the US, which is added to the citizenship you already have in your country of origin. Before you apply, it is imperative that you check that your country of origin allows dual citizenship – if it doesn’t, you could inadvertently lose your citizenship status there.

Check You Are Eligible For Dual Citizenship In The US

 

If your country of origin allows dual citizenship, you should then check that you satisfy the US requirements for naturalization. This is best checked with USCIS but typical requirements include:

 

  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • You have lived in the US and held a Green Card for a certain period of time (normally 3 to 5 years)
  • You live in the state where you intend to apply for naturalization/dual citizenship
  • You have a certain level of communication in English
  • You are able to demonstrate a set level of knowledge about the US

 

 

If you meet these requirements, the next step you then need to fill in the ‘application for naturalization’ paperwork (also known as Form N-400). This has a cost attached to it – at the time of writing it is $640. You also have to pay $85 for biometric services to run a background check on you.

 

This is the first step of the process – on average, from filling in the form to completion, it can take about 18 months. There are follow on forms and interviews before dual citizenship is approved.

Which Countries Allow Dual Citizenship?

When it comes to dual citizenship countries, not all of them will accept your citizenship in the US or another country – and you may even inadvertently renounce your citizenship in your country of origin. This map of dual citizenships around the world gives a great graphical overview of many countries’ attitudes and policies around dual citizenship. However, as these policies are subject to change, we would always recommend checking with the embassy of the respective country at the time, to make sure you have the current information.

What Are Your Rights As A Dual Citizen?

  • You’ll have the right to vote.

 

  • You’ll be able to work in the US without a work visa. (However, there is a risk that if there are any diplomatic issues between your country of origin and the US, that a conflict of interest could mean it could be difficult when it comes to scenarios like securing employment with the US government.)

 

  • In contrast to Green Card holders, you can leave the US for more than a year and not have any issues upon return. In general, travel is less restricted.

 

  • You’ll be able to help family members secure Green Card status.

 

  • You can benefit from US schools without enrolling under a student visa or having to pay international student fees.

What Are Your Responsibilities As A Dual Citizen?

Of course, dual citizenship is a two way street. While you’ll enjoy the benefits of your new status, there are some obligations and responsibilities as a dual citizen in return for your new rights.

 

  • You may be called to jury service.

 

  • You must pay US taxes.

 

  • You must declare any previous convictions or legal violations.

 

  • You may be called to serve in the military.

Is Dual Citizenship The Same As Dual Nationality?

Yes – ‘dual citizenship’ and ‘dual nationality’ are two different names for the same status.

 

 

We know that immigration rules and practices are becoming more and more sophisticated, whether you’re applying for dual citizenship or any other type of immigration application.

 

At USIMPR we work with licensed and expert immigration professionals who have handled numerous cases. Our job is to help open the door so that you and your family can live, work or start business in the US.

 

If you need any support, advice or assistance when it comes to immigration matters, please get in touch with our specialists who will be more than happy to help move your application forward.

EB-2 Green Card Benefits

EB visas or Green Cards are categories of immigrant visas in the US which relate to employment-based (EB) permanent residency. There are 5 tiers of EB visa: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5. In this article we’ll discuss the requirements and benefits of an EB-2 Green Card, but for context we’ll also explain what the top 3 tiers broadly mean.

EB-1 Visa

The EB-1 is the top tier first-preference visa. It applies to applicants who are:

 

  1. a) of ‘extraordinary ability’ in business, science, the arts, education or athletics. This is very high level – for example Olympic level athletes or Pulitzer Prize-winning authors.

 

  1. b) outstanding professors and researchers

 

  1. c) multinational managers or executives

EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 visa is for skilled workers and professionals.

 

‘Skilled workers’ count as people who have jobs that require a minimum of 2 years’ experience or training, and ‘professionals’ are people whose job requires a degree or equivalent.

What Is An EB-2 Green Card?

An EB-2 is a category of immigrant visa in the US which relates to employment-based (EB) permanent residency and has requirements that sit between those of EB-1 (top-tier) and EB-3 (third tier).

How Do You Qualify For An EB-2 Green Card?

 

You may be eligible for an EB-2 Green Card if you are in a profession that requires an advanced degree or its equivalent, or if you’re a foreign national with exceptional ability.

 

According to USCIS, ‘exceptional ability’ refers to a level of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business. Criteria include:

 

  • evidence of a degree, diploma or certificate from an academic institution
  • documents to demonstrate at least a decade of full-time experience in your profession
  • evidence that you have been paid for services that demonstrate your exceptional ability
  • membership of a professional association related to your profession
  • recognition or awards form peers, professionals organizations and others in your industry

 

What Is The EB-2 Visa Processing Time?

 

The steps involved in the application process are

 

  • Complete form I-140 (the immigrant petition for alien workers)
  • Permanent labor certification
  • Green Card interview

 

The time to process your EB-2 application depends on the number of applicants each year. There’s an annual limit of 40,000 and the EB-2 Visa Bulletin gives updates about the number of visas that are available to each country.

 

Processing time is normally within six months but it can take up to two years to receive permanent labor certification. This can be reduced if your employer is willing to pay for a premium processing service.

What Are The Benefits of An EB-2 Visa?

  • You can earn permanent residency in the US with an EB-2 visa. This also means easier travel, stability in your immigration status and school tuition. If your aim is for US citizenship, permanent residency is a good step on that path.

 

  • It is a relatively fast process at an average of 6 months for approval.

 

  • Your spouse and children under 21 years of age are eligible to be admitted to the US under E-21 and E-22 status respectively.

What Is A National Interest Waiver?

A national interest waiver (NIW) is a way of obtaining permanent residence in the US – a Green Card – without an employer as a sponsor.

 

It acts as a subset of the EB-2 visa. In order to go down this route you’ll need to prove that the work you can offer is of benefit to the US.

 

It is called a ‘waiver’ because, as we have seen, the normal process for an EB-2 visa involves your employer’s sponsorship. With the national interest waiver, USCIS is essentially saying that the work offered by the applicant is so essential to the US that there is no need to offer it to an American worker.

 

 

At USIMPR we work with experts in immigration who have handled numerous cases. Our job is to help you and your family to live, work or start a business in the US.

 

If you need any support, advice or assistance when it comes to immigration matters, please get in touch with our specialists who will be more than happy to help move your application forward.

 

Citizenship Vs Nationality: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to matters of immigraion, it’s important to understand the definitions of key terms and concepts to help ensure a smooth and painless process.

 

One thing we’re asked frequently by clients is to explain the difference between citizenship and nationality, so we’ve put this article together to help get to an understanding of these terms.

Citizenship vs Nationality

What Is Citizenship?

The idea of ‘citizenship’ relates to a person’s legal status in a city or a state, and formal relationship between that institution and the citizen. It is a two way relationship: the citizen is granted a set of rights within the city or state (for example the right to participate in the political life of the state, such as by voting or standing for election). In return that citizen has obligations or duties they owe to that institution.

What Is Nationality?

The rights and obligations of nationals vary between territories – they are often complemented by citizenship law, in some contexts to the point where citizenship is synonymous with nationality, so it’s understandable why it can become confusing.

 

However, nationality differs in a legal sense from citizenship, which is a different kind of relationship between a person and a country. The term ‘national’ can include both citizens and non-citizens.

 

In most modern countries:

 

  • all nationals are citizens of the state, and
  • full citizens are always nationals of the state.

So What Is The Difference?

 

Historically, the most significant difference between a national and a citizen is that the citizen has the right to vote for elected officials, and the right to be elected. This distinction between full citizenship and other relationships like nationality has a long history.

 

Until the 20th century, it was common for only a certain selection of people who belonged to the state to be considered full citizens. Many people were excluded from citizenship and discriminated against on the basis of factors such as sex, class, ethnicity, etc. However, they held a legal relationship with their government which could be likened to the modern concept of nationality.

‘Nationality’ refers to where you are born, whereas ‘citizenship’ is granted by a government of a country when certain legal obligations or rules are fulfilled.

People often confuse the difference between citizenship vs. nationality when describing:

 

  1. a) where they were born and
  2. b) their inherited cultural background.

In Summary

Citizenship can be seen as a political status because it indicates which country recognizes you as a citizen. Citizenship is more fluid as you can be a citizen of multiple countries or states at the same time, and you also have the ability to rescind your citizenship to a country.

 

Nationality is more about the relationship between you and your place of birth; sometimes it is seen as ethnic or racially related. Nationality cannot be changed in the same way as citizenship.

In the United States, people born in the country are granted citizenship but as well as this there is a second category of citizenship: through naturalization. It is possible to be granted citizenship via application and through an interview process.

The Citizenship Interview

 

The interview includes various questions related to your citizenship eligibility. They cover topics such as:

 

  • Where you’ve been living or working during your time in the United States
  • Your status as a Legal Permanent Resident
  • Your background, marriage, and history
  • Your relationship with the US and its founding principles
  • Whether or not you will take an oath of allegiance to the country
  • Your ‘moral character’
  • It’s also required that you have a certain level of communication when it comes to speaking English

 

Difference Between Green Card vs Citizenship

Having a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card) grants you the right to live and work permanently in the United States, conferring on you the status of ‘lawful permanent resident’. The procedure to follow to apply for a Green Card can be different depending on your particular circumstances.

 

(Green card holders can theoretically stay in the US indefinitely, but it’s not as secure a status as US citizenship. This is the main difference between permanent residency with a Green Card, and citizenship.)

 

Permanent residents remain citizens of another country. So every time a green card holder travels outside the United States, they must carry the passport of the country they are citizens of, as well as their US Green Card which will enable re-entry into the States.

Dual Citizenship vs Dual Allegiance

Dual Citizenship

 

‘Dual citizenship’ is the status of an individual who holds the nationality of two different countries at the same time.

 

Dual citizenship can offer many benefits: if, for example, you travel frequently between the US and another country to visit relatives, you don’t need to apply for a visa to enter either country. You would also usually benefit from the rights to work and vote in both countries.

Dual Allegiance

 

‘Dual nationals’ owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are beholden to the laws of both countries, and either country is able to enforce its laws on the individual.

 

This can be problematic. Claims of other countries upon US dual-nationals can put them in situations where their obligations to one country conflict with the laws of the other. In addition, their dual nationality may make it difficult for the US Government to provide consular support to them when they are in the country of their second nationality.

 

Naturalization vs Citizenship

 

You may use a certificate of naturalization, or citizenship certificate to prove that you are a US citizen.

Certificate of Naturalization

 

A certificate of naturalization is granted to someone who becomes a citizen of America through naturalization. USCIS issues naturalization certificates to foreign nationals who become US citizens through the naturalization process, after the age of 18. (Naturalization is the process by which US citizenship is granted to a lawful permanent resident after meeting the requirements established by Congress.)

Certificate of Citizenship

 

Acquisition of citizenship is obtained through US citizenship parents either at birth, or after birth, but before the age of 18.

Naturalized vs Derived Citizenship

 

Derived citizens are those who obtain their citizenship upon their parents’ naturalization, as opposed to those who file for their own naturalization.

 

Derived citizenship states that if you have at least one parent with US citizenship (naturalized or born), then as a child under 18 years of age, you may also obtain your citizenship through them.

 

 

Hopefully this definition of terms helps give an insight into the complexity of the ins and outs of citizenship, nationality and the peripheral terminology and concepts. If there are any further questions, please do contact us. Here at USIMPR we administer various immigration programs, representing individuals and businesses around the United States and the world.

Everything You Need To Know About Form SS-5

Applying for government forms and cards can seem daunting, but here at USIMPR we’re the experts in making the process as straightforward and painless as possible. In this article we answer everything you need to know about form SS-5, which is a form connected with applying for US Social Security numbers.

What Is An SS-5 Form?

 

An SS-5 form (also known as form SS-5) is an Application for a Social Security Card form supplied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you fill in to:

 

  • apply for a new Social Security number
  • apply for a replacement card if you’ve lost or damaged it
  • change or update information on your Social Security number record

 

Alternatively, you can also register a ‘my Social Security’ account to request a replacement Social Security card, check the status of an application, estimate future benefits, or manage the benefits you already receive, all online. However if you cannot apply for a card online, then you’ll need to use form SS-5.

Who Should Fill In an SS-5 Form?

 

Anyone who needs a new Social Security number, a replacement card or has to update information will need to fill in an SS-5 form. You will need a Social Security number and card if:

 

  • you’ve misplaced or damaged your old card
  • your Social Security card has an error, like an incorrectly spelled name
  • you have changed from a legal resident to a US citizen
  • you’ve changed your name, for example following a marriage or divorce
  • you’ve recently given birth to a child, but didn’t apply for a social security card for them at the hospital
  • you’ve adopted a child and need a card for them

 

How Much Does A Form SS-5 Cost?

 

Form SS-5 is free and available from the Social Security Administration website, therefore applying for a Social Security card, replacement, or amendment using Form SS-5 is free.

Where Can I Get An SS-5 Form?

The form is available on the Social Security Administration website. You’ll need to print out and fill the SS-5 form in before mailing it to your local Social Security office along with any relevant documentation.

How To Fill Out Your SS5 Form

Make sure you fill the form in using blue or black ink.

 

If you’re applying for an original card (not a replacement) you need to provide 2 documents that prove:

 

  • Age
  • Identity
  • US citizenship status OR
  • Work-authorized immigration status

 

When providing evidence of age, you’ll typically need a birth certificate. If you do not have this, other documents can be accepted, for example:

 

  • Passport
  • Religious record showing your date of birth (created before you were 5 years of age)
  • Final adoption decree

 

If you’re applying for a replacement card, you need to provide 1 document to prove your identity:

 

  • US driver’s license
  • US State-issued non-driver ID card
  • US Passport

 

If you are unable to provide any of these, the following that show name and other information may be accepted:

 

  • US military ID card
  • Employee ID
  • Copy of medical record from a doctor, clinic or hospital
  • Health insurance card
  • Medicaid card
  • School identity card

 

(Birth certificates and Social Security card stubs are not accepted as evidence of identity.)

 

Filling in the SS-5 form is fairly self-explanatory, and there are guidance notes for assistance as you go through the process.

 

Once you’ve filled in form SS-5, make sure you either post the original to your local Social Security office with the relevant documents – they will not accept duplicates or photocopies, or take the form SS-5 and documents in person. The advantage of physically going into the office is that you will be able to keep your documents (passport, birth certificate etc). If posting them you may not have them back for several weeks.

What Happens Once You’ve Submitted Your SS-5 Form?

Once you’ve submitted your SS-5 form with your supporting documents, you should receive your Social Security card in approximately 10 business days.

 

Hopefully that answers all your questions around what form SS-5 is, how it works, and how you fill it in. If you have any questions that you feel we’ve not answered, or need any assistance from an immigration point of view, please do get in touch.

 

At USIMPR we can offer you the very best when it comes to immigration programs and work with licensed and expert immigration professionals who have handled numerous cases.

Start a business in the United States and get an E-2 Visa

If you are a resident* of Australia, Canada, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Switzerland you have the opportunity to obtain an E-2 visa under a simplified procedure and move to the United States (US). To do this, you will need a company in America, an approved business plan and an investment of $50,000.

The US, like any other economically developed country, is always interested in opportunities provided by business investor immigrants. This cohort helps to develop the economy, create new jobs and add to the tax base. Such investors enter the country on visas obtained on the basis of the state agreements on promotion and mutual protection of investments.

A popular option for such an investor is an E-2 visa. This type of visa allows you to enter the US and work in your own company. As an investor, your spouse and children are also issued with E-2 visas. The E-2 is issued for two years with the right of extension an unlimited number of times.

The process of preparing for E-2 visa application can be time-consuming. In addition, you should be ready for the expenses. First, these are made up of investments of $50,000 directly in the development of the project and establishing of an American company. You will also have to make a one-time visit to the US to open a bank account. However, the application and documents consideration procedure are organized simply in comparison with other business visa types. You submit your documents and application to the nearest US Embassy. After considering your application, you will be invited to an interview and then the embassy will decide whether to issue an E-2 visa.

The preparation process should begin with the development of a business plan. The business plan should be based on the previously conducted marketing research. The research does not have to be large-scale – it can be carried out independently on the basis of publicly available information – but it is better to use professionals’ assistance if possible. You should have a good understanding of whether your American company’s services or products will be in demand in the local market, and whether US law requires any special permits for your planned business. There is no sense in considering an investment project with a capital intensity of less than $50,000, as such investments provide little chances for obtaining the visa.

At the time of applying for E-2 visa, you must own an operating US company. The company must have a taxpayer identification number and a bank account. You will need to transfer the amount of money declared in your business plan to the account. Your task at this stage of the application is to prove that your US business has already been running and needs your management. To this end, you have to activate the business process and make the first business expenses. The amount of expenses made at the time of applying for a visa may be in the region of 20% of the declared amount of investments. As outlined above, some part of the business launching expenses must be made in order to be awarded the E-2 visa.

What then about costs in case of application refusal? With the right approach, the probability of refusal is small, and opening the escrow account will minimize the risks, as this will be the account which the money for the purchase of a ready-made business, real estate or other assets will be deposited into. Money is written off from the escrow account only when you receive a positive decision about issuing the E-2 visa. Such a situation is more favorable for the investor. In this situation, we will attach an agreement with the bank instead of business expenses confirmation to the application.

The agreement will prove that the money for the planned investment has already been deposited into an open escrow account on behalf of your US company and the necessary agreements have been signed. As soon as you get your visa, the bank makes a payment and you become the owner of the operating business, franchise or profitable real estate with the right to live and work in the US. * An incomplete list of countries falling within the E-2: Chili, Germany, Iran, Philippines, Spain, Turkey. Read the full list of signatory countries here

How investors can gain Cypriot citizenship

A lot of people understand the investment program of the Republic of Cyprus to follow the classic formula: you buy a real estate, and you get citizenship. In reality, there is little information available on the detail, and in 2019, the Republic of Cyprus tightened its immigration policy and revised some aspects of the “Citizenship by Investment” program.

Why do you need Cypriot citizenship?

Since Cyprus is a member of the European Union (EU), the holder of the passport of this country is essentially an EU citizen and, accordingly, can live and work in any country within this union. Such mobility is particularly valuable during times of crisis when it is important to be able to move assets quickly.

Moreover, Cyprus itself is famous for its loyal taxation: with corporate tax being only 12.5%. Cyprus has also concluded agreements excluding double taxation with 50 countries, which allows Cypriot residents to receive income from investments and entrepreneurial activities and not to overpay taxes.

Many investors are therefore attracted to moving to this economically stable country, with an independent judicial system and good medical system to live there as a rentier, receiving income in the form of dividends and/or interest. A further incentive for citizenship is that for the first 17 years, any rental income from Cypriot real estate, dividends and interest received by those who moved to Cyprus and became a resident is not subject to any special contribution to the Cypriot defence system. There are no other taxes on dividends or interest.

Changes in immigration policy

In 2019, the Government of Cyprus carried out a reform of the “Citizenship for Investments” program. As a result, some requirements for the applicants have changed, and the procedure for obtaining a passport became more complicated. These changes are outlined below.

  1. The list of objects for investments has been changed. Shares of shipping companies has taken the place of government bonds as objects for investments (along with residential and commercial real estate).
  2. A mandatory non-refundable contribution to state funds of 150 thousand euros has been introduced. Over the five years of the program, contributions have brought the country 6.6 billion euros of foreign investment (as compared with the size of the revenue part of the budget – about 8.5 billion euros per year). But authorities noted that this money helped only the construction industry, while ordinary Cypriots did not feel significant improvements. To attract funding for important social projects, the Council of Ministers decided to introduce the mandatory non-refundable contribution of 150 thousand euros for each investor. This amount is divided between the Research and Innovation Promotion Fund and the Land Development Corporation Foundation. Money from the second fund will be directed to the development and maintenance of state programs of affordable housing.
  3. Mandatory ownership of investments has been extended to five years. After this time, the investor can then sell them. Only housing worth at least 500 thousand euros should remain in lifelong ownership.
  4. The requirements for applicants have been tightened. For example, an applicant for Cypriot citizenship must have a valid Schengen visa. If the applicant previously received a refusal of citizenship of another EU country, the application will not be considered.
  5. The list of mandatory documents for real estate investments has been expanded.

Stages of obtaining Cypriot citizenship

The procedure for obtaining a passport of the Republic of Cyprus is roughly six months, most of which is occupied by checking applicants for citizenship.

Stage 1. Buying real estate

You can purchase:

  • Residential real estate, the minimum amount is 2 million euros. If at least one secondary property is bought, the amount increases to 2.5 million euros.
  • Commercial real estate, the amount is 2 million euros, plus 500 thousand euros for the mandatory purchase of housing for life ownership.

From 2019, it is also possible to invest in Cyprus securities. The amount is 2 million euros plus 500 thousand euros for the mandatory purchase of housing in lifetime ownership.

In addition to the above investments, it is necessary to pay VAT (5% or 19%, depending on the purpose of the facility), as well as 150 thousand euros of a non-refundable contribution to state funds (see above). Thus, the minimum necessary amount for investment is about 2.5 million euros.

It is worth noting that the duties of the owner of the property include payment of utilities, and the annual municipal tax (55-185 euros). It is also advisable to purchase real estate insurance, not only as protection against accidents, but also against third parties such as neighbours.

Only citizens of Cyprus and the EU are entitled to rent Cypriot real estate, other foreigners are prohibited from doing it, including through a local management company or other real estate agents. The fact is that every foreigner, when buying real estate, must receive permission from the Council of Ministers, which states that he/she is allowed to buy an apartment or house exclusively for the purpose of personal residence.

We would recommend that those who are going to buy real estate in Cyprus always make a pre-sale check through their own lawyer. The seller must provide you with a so-called search certificate, which will make it possible to assess the legal purity of the object, the presence of encumbrances, and the rights of third parties.

It is also desirable for the seller to have title to the object if it relates to secondary housing. If the property is new, then you can hope to receive the title within 2-3 years. It is advisable not to make a full settlement (leave 5-10% of the contract amount) before receiving this document if it is a matter of acquiring new real estate.

It should be borne in mind that the registration of the contract for the purchase of real estate in the department of the Land Chamber of Cyprus gives the buyer additional protection. If the seller disappears, the buyer will have the opportunity to re-register the property. The re-issuance is made without the participation of the seller and provided that the buyer fully pays the transaction.

Stage 2. Collection and submission of documents

In order for investments in Cypriot real estate to be approved, it is necessary to provide:

  • Documents on removal of encumbrances from real estate;
  • A certificate that the construction of the facility has been completed, or a bank guarantee in the amount of at least 5% of its value – if the investor buys real estate during the construction phase;
  • Planning permission.

All documents are transferred to the Ministry of the Interior of Cyprus, when a fee of 2 thousand euros is payable.

Stage 3. Passing the check and obtaining a passport

Cyprus real estate can be purchased both by a private person and by a company. Cypriot and EU citizens do not have a limit on the number of objects purchased. The remaining category of persons has the right to purchase no more than two real estate objects.

The candidate must be an adult, have no convictions and not be under EU sanctions. To be sure of obtaining Cypriot citizenship, it is worth ordering a preliminary check of your candidacy from specialized firms.

As we mentioned above, an investor should have a valid Schengen visa and not receive earlier refuses of citizenship of another EU country. In addition to the investor themselves, the following can apply for Cypriot citizenship:

  • Their spouse, even if the relationship is not officially registered. In the latter case, it is necessary to confirm the financial dependence of the spouse, as well as write a statement on cohabitation;
  • Any children of an investor who are under 28 years old at the time of filing the application. Adult children should not have their own sources of income;
  • Parents of the investor and parents of spouse. The age of parents, as well as whether they depend financially on the investor, does not matter. However, it is necessary to purchase additional real estate for their stay in the amount of at least 500 thousand euros plus VAT.

Verification of applicants for Cypriot citizenship takes 4-5 months. Among the most common reasons for refusing citizenship are a poorly prepared package of documents, an illogical chain of evidence of the legality of invested funds, and concealment of information about criminal penalties. After approval of the candidacy, the investor receives a certificate of naturalization and a few days later – a passport.

EB-5 Investor Visa

The United States (US) launched the EB-5 visa program in 1990. The program allows foreign investors to obtain a US visa by investing in businesses that will contribute to the US economy and create jobs. In 2019, the EB-5 program is expected to be changed, with an increase in the investment capital required. You can learn more about the changes here. Despite these changes, investors have the opportunity to participate the EB-5 visa program under the old conditions.

Who may apply for the EB-5 visa?

If you are a foreign investor and meet the conditions below, you can apply for an EB-5 visa.

EB-5 visa application requirements

  • Investors must make a minimum investment of $500,000 through the EB-5 regional center
  • Investors must show the legal sources of the investment capital
  • Investors must prove that himself/herself and/or his/her family have not violated any US immigration laws and do not have any prior criminal records.

What do you get by participating EB-5 visa program?

Once the USCIS requirements have been met and the selected EB-5 project successfully completed, the investor obtains a permanent green card and eventually returns on the $500,000 investment in the EB-5 program.

Permanent Green Card: US Citizenship

At the request of the investor, the investor and his/her family members may apply for the US citizenship approximately five years after the investor’s first entry into the US.

EB-5 visa program benefits

Immigration to the US under the EB-5 visa program provides many benefits to foreign investors.

Terms Permanent residence in the US in just 20 months
Predictability Investor does not depend on the lottery or employer
Family Visa and Permanent Residence permit in the US are granted to the whole family
Freedom Investors may live, work and attend training institutions anywhere in the US
Citizenship Investor may get the US citizenship after five years of permanent residence

EB-5 visa step-by-step

Investor check Advice to assess the investor’s and his/her investment capital reliability in terms of US law.
Project selection Selection of an investment project from list of those provided by regional centers accredited by the US Government.
Preparation of documents Preparation of the set of documents for the EB-5 visa. investor signs the documents.
Investments transfer Money transfer to the escrow account of the investment project.
Form I-526 Green Card Immigration lawyer prepares an application for a green card (Form I-526) for the investor and his/her family members.
Moving to the USA Once the Form I-526 has been approved, the investor and his/her family members will be issued their temporary green cards for two years and will be able to move to the US.
Permanent Green Card Within 90 days after the expiry of the temporary green card, an immigration attorney applies for a permanent green card (Form I-829) on behalf of the investor and his/her family.
Return on Investment Once the project requirements have been met, the investor receives a return on investment of $500,000.

GET ADVICE ON EB-5 VISA

EB-5 Visa Application Changes.

Make it to submit documents under the old conditions.

An EB-5 visa program has proved to be the most reliable and fastest way for foreign investors to obtain a United States (US) residence permit and eventually, US citizenship. The program involves investing in reliable projects, prepared by regional centers accredited by the US authorities. Learn more about the EB-5 visa here.

Investment Projects

The projects involve an investment of $500,000 and more. Return on this investment depends on the project and on average can take between 3-5 years. During this time, the investor and his/her family may permanently reside in the US based on their green cards, and after five years may apply for citizenship.

Investment Amount

From 2019, the EB-5 visa program conditions are changing, with the minimum investment amount rising from $500,000 to $1.3 million. Apart from this increase, the visa program conditions will remain the same.

Quick move to the US

If you have been planning to move to the US as an investor, you still have a last chance to do it with a minimum investment of $500,000 before the new rules come into force.

What should you do to apply under the old conditions?

1 Contact us at the first available opportunity to get advice on the program specifics and possibility to obtain an EB-5 visa
2 The immigration lawyer will prepare a set of documents
3 The regional center will consider your application on an expedited basis
4 You will transfer the investment funds to the project escrow account
5 The immigration lawyer will apply for a temporary residence permit for two years for the investor and his/her family members

CONTACT US TO APPLY FOR EB-5 VISA

Montenegro – citizenship in exchange for investment

 

In 2018, the Montenegrin government announced the launch of a new program for obtaining citizenship of the country through investment. The program started in November 2019 and will end on December 31st, 2021. At the same time, the authorities are ready to accept only 2,000 applicants.

To obtain a Montenegrin passport, it is necessary to invest in real estate in the country and make a contribution to the state Development Fund.

On 26th July 2010 Montenegro gained independence. In 2010, the country became an official candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), however the country is not part of the eurozone, and the country’s currency is not the euro. Since 2017 Montenegro has also been a NATO member country.

Montenegro’s passport ensures visa-free entry to more than 120 countries of the world, including all countries of the Schengen zone, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Turkey, the UAE and other key areas for business and tourism.

One of the main advantages of the program is Montenegro being a candidate for joining the EU in 2025. This is especially important for investors who have been thinking about EU citizenship. For the recipients of a Montenegrin passport, there is no requirement to renounce their first citizenship, as no obligation to know the national language.

How to get Montenegrin citizenship

The program offers foreign investors several options for investments:

● Invest in real estate projects worth 450,000 euros in developed areas of the country (the south and coastal regions).

● Invest in real estate projects worth 250,000 euros in less developed regions in the north of the country.

Under the Citizenship in Exchange for Investment program, in all cases of investment, projects must be approved by the government and allowed to participate in the program. It is also necessary to make a payment in the amount of 100,000 euros to a specially created state fund.

Who can get a citizenship

The requirements for applicants are as follows:

● No sanctions, restrictions or prohibitions on entry into the EU, US, UK and Canada.

● No criminal record

● Good credit history.

● Legality of the origin of investment funds.

● Good health.

● Lack of EU citizenship.

Applicants must be prepared to undergo due diligence both of themselves and the legality of the origin of the funds that will be invested. Everything must be as transparent and documented as possible. The companies in which the client was a member/director, etc. for more than ten previous years are checked. Without putting things in order and starting to collect documents, it makes no sense to start this process.

For an additional fee, you can pre-order due diligence if you are not sure about the purity of the criminal story or the evidence of the legality of the funds invested.

Program Expenses

The cost of participating in the program for the main applicant is 15,000 euros. 10,000 euros for his family members (maximum four persons) and 50,000 euros for other family members, including grandparents.

Investment funds are deposited in pre-opened accounts in the Montenegrin escrow bank. One account is required for investing in the project, the other for payment to the state fund. The transfer of funds from the escrow accounts to the accounts of the project manager of the company and the government is automatic, but only after the government decides that the candidate meets the parameters of the program. In fact, such a decision meant that the applicant would acquire citizenship. In case of refusal, the funds will be returned to the account from which they came.

The best course of action is to be honest with yourself and get rid of illusions. It makes no sense to carefully evaluate the proposed objects by attractiveness, profitability, etc. Consider your investment as a fee for a passport and EU citizenship in the future. The price per square meter of the investment project will fluctuate about 7000-8000 euros per square meter, while the average price per square meter of real estate in Montenegro is 1200-1700 euros.

In addition to the sale contract, the investor signs an agreement on full management, that is, the complete transfer of real estate to management. An investor can sell his/her “real estate” after obtaining citizenship, but already at a market price or use for recreation.

Required documents

The collection of documents takes a significant period. Therefore, we recommend drawing up a plan for the period of preparation and validity of documents in order to avoid making unnecessary movements or incurring additional costs for the reproduction of documents. The list of documents, the terms of processing are very individual and depend on citizenship, residence, the nature of the business and the origin of the funds.

For example, required documents could be:

● Power of attorney to the agent

● Request for citizenship

● Sales contract

● Valid passports

● Birth/marriage certificate

● Certificate of incapacity for ten years

● Driving licence

● Medical certificate

● Bank statement

● Diploma

Summary

To summarize, the plan for obtaining citizenship of Montenegro is as follows.

1. Preparation and collection of documents.

2. Visit to Montenegro. You can make a study trip to see the project, and we can sign a contract of purchase and sale of real estate with a notary. You can open two bank escrow accounts in a bank in Podgorica, with still time for dinner at one of the capital’s restaurants.

3. We transfer funds to escrow accounts.

4. We submit documents, including confirmation of payment. The fees are approximately 86,300 euros for a family of three.

It will take approximately three months from the date of your visit to Montenegro to receive a decision. There will be another 2-3 months left before receiving a passport.